Players to Target & Avoid in Best Ball Tournaments (2022 Fantasy Football)

Best ball tournaments are in full swing across the fantasy football industry. Some of the prize pools range from $250K to first all the way to $2M for the tournament winner. Each tournament’s settings, however, play a significant part in how to value each player.

For those unfamiliar, Drafters Fantasy put out a $20 entry fee, $1M prize-pool NFL best ball tournament with over 55,000 entries, and a max-entry limit of 150. The top prize is $250,000 to the first-place season-long scorer through 17 weeks. There are no playoffs or Week 17 matchups — the team with the most points accumulated over the season wins the championship. Starting roster positions include 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 TE, & 1 FLEX for the full-PPR scoring 20-round draft. There is no premium TE.

Players Better in Drafters NFL Best Ball Tournament

Mike Evans (WR-TB)

Chris Godwin tore his ACLs in Week 15 of the 2021 season. The soonest Godwin could return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ starting lineup projects to be in early October, but that may extend into mid-November. In the five games over the last two seasons where Mike Evans has played and Chris Godwin has not, Evans has averaged over 21 PPR fantasy points per game. Extrapolated out to 17 games, that total would’ve been the overall WR2 in PPR last season, only behind Cooper Kupp. Evans’ ADP is 20.6.

Marquise Brown (WR–ARI)

Last season, the only Arizona Cardinals WRs with weekly target shares over 25% were DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk. Hopkins is suspended for the first six games while Kirk signed a lucrative deal in free agency with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Enter Marquise Brown, who had eight different games (half of his season) in 2021 where he exceeded a 25% target share for the Baltimore Ravens. The opportunity for the first 35% of the season will be massive for Brown, making him a prime candidate to boom in the absence of Hopkins. Brown’s ADP is 42.5.

Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR–DET)

Over his last six games played, Amon-Ra St. Brown was WR3 overall in PPR points, only behind Davante Adams and Cooper Kupp. While TJ Hockenson and D’Andre Swift missed most of that stretch, the Detroit Lions sent a clear message about their belief in St. Brown with the WRs they brought in this offseason. DJ Chark upgrades the routes of Kalif Raymond and Josh Reynolds, while Jameson Williams’ earliest return from his ACL tear would be mid-October — neither WR runs the same routes that St. Brown did last season. St. Brown was schemed touches, averaging over 10 targets and nearly eight receptions during his final six-game stretch. While St. Brown may not access a WR1 ceiling as regularly as he did at the end of last season, he may still command a 25% target share on an improving Detroit Lions squad during the first half of the season. St. Brown’s ADP is 64.4.

Marlon Mack (RB–HOU)

When Mack tore his Achilles tendon in Week 1 of the 2020 season, there were concerns that the injury would end his career. Instead, he worked his way back to play six games for the Indianapolis Colts in 2021 and ran for over 100 yards on 28 attempts in limited work. After signing with the Houston Texans, the former RB15 in 2018 and RB22 in 2019 has the second-highest cap hit in the running back room, only behind Rex Burkhead. Texans GM Nick Caserio has come out and said that Burkhead will not be a bellcow like he was at times in 2021. Instead, the competition for Mack is former Buccaneer and Jaguar Dare Ogunbowale, former Bronco Royce Freeman, and rookie Dameon Pierce. Pierce never had more than 13 carries in a game at Florida in 2021, and only had double-digit carries in two such games. If Mack wins the job during training camp, he may not let it go for most of the season. Mack’s ADP is 190.1.

Mitchell Trubisky (QB-PIT)

While there may be a competition during training camp, Trubisky is the early favorite to win out over first-round selection Kenny Pickett. If he starts strong, Trubisky could start the entire season. If this was a Week-17 tournament, Trubisky’s value would probably not register — but given the chance he starts the majority of the season, Trubisky is certainly more valuable in a season-long format. Surrounded by perhaps the best weapons of his career in Pittsburgh with Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, rookie second-round pick George Pickens, an ascending Pat Freiermuth, and Najee Harris, Trubisky could provide a value as QB34 off the board and ADP 223.9.

Players Worse in Drafters NFL Best Ball Tournament

Chris Godwin (WR–TB)

If Godwin misses the first five weeks, which he is projected to do, drafters are taking an automatic zero for over 33% of the season with a Round 5-6 turn player cost. Consider Darnell Mooney, Elijah Moore, and Adam Thielen over Chris Godwin. Godwin’s ADP is 60.7.

Michael Gallup (WR–DAL)

With surgery from the torn ACL in early February, Gallup probably won’t be available until Week 9 or 10 at the earliest. Instead of taking a zero for over 50% of the season, consider another player in early Round 11 as the third-best player off the bench in this tournament. Gallup’s ADP is 124.4.

DeAndre Hopkins (WR–ARI)

Hopkins is guaranteed to miss six games due to the PED suspension handed out by the NFL — the equivalent to missing 35% of the season. Hopkins’ ADP of 81.3 is the back-end of the seventh round, which is still a projected starting spot in your best ball lineup. Even when Hopkins played in 2021, he averaged the fewest PPR fantasy points since 2016. Hopkins is a post-apex 30-year-old WR on a team who just traded for a young high-volume WR in Marquise Brown. Even when he does return from suspension, are we so sure he retains even a 25% target share?

James Robinson (RB–JAC)

Robinson tore his Achilles at the end of the 2021 season. Assuming he stays on track, he may be back at training camp. However, looking at the Cam Akers archetype, Robinson may start inefficiently or not at all — which is not good given his UDFA pedigree and that he was originally signed under a different regime. Additionally, Travis Etienne looks to be making a full recovery from his own foot injury. Just because Robinson returns to play, he may not get much useful or fantasy-relevant work at the start of the season with Snoop Conner and Ryquell Armstead also hungry for touches. Robinson’s ADP is 182.5.

Drafting non-First-Round Rookie WRs

Intuitively, and statistically supported, rookie WRs generally improve as the season goes on by learning plays, acclimating to the NFL’s level of competition, and receiving greater opportunities when veteran starters go down with injury or are benched due to poor play. However, especially for late-round dart-throw rookie WRs, their end-of-season production may be nerfed by the near-zeros they score during the beginning of the season. Reaching on the likes of Skyy Moore, Christian Watson, Jalen Tolbert, and Alec Pierce may prove -EV when veterans like Chase Claypool, Jarvis Landry, Jamison Crowder, or DJ Chark will play significant snaps to start the season and are being drafted behind some of these rookies.

In short, each week is equally valuable in this format, so fading veterans over prove-it rookies may not be the play in this tournament.

Jameson Williams (WR–DET)

This is the worst of both worlds for Jameson Williams: Not only is he a rookie WR, but he is also coming off a torn ACL and had surgery in mid-January 2022. The earliest he would return is mid-October, and that could be as late as the beginning of December. The Lions’ front office has been savvy so far with player selection and development — it would be out of character for them to now rush Williams back. Williams most likely misses the first half of the season. He’s currently an 11th-round selection with an ADP of 138.1.

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